I decided to turn the month dedicated to the Romance Industrial Complex™ into a celebration of love for myself.
I had an emotional holiday hangover that left me feeling like garbage in January. I was listless, sad, and uninspired (it turns out this is how my body was trying to telling me that I needed some TLC). Rather than push through it I booked a room in Santa Cruz, a beach town in its low season. In the summer rooms average $200 a night but many spots are less than half that during February.
I checked in on Friday afternoon, and by Saturday I was in a private hot tub with tea, a cute robe and my very own shower (for a total of $44!). It was during this precious and rare downtime that I realized that downtime is precious and rare. Why wasn't I giving myself more? Why did this feel so revolutionary?
Oh, right. Because I’m a fat brown lady and anything I do besides being bummed out that I’m not a thin white woman is gonna feel political.
I recalled so many moments throughout my adult life that have struck people as particularly noteworthy or brave because I’m doing them in a fat body. I always remind people that I’m just trying to live my best life. It is the culture that is imposing special meaning onto my ability and willingness to do the things that matter to me and give me pleasure.
There are myriad things that thin people get to do that are simply verboten (or at least, discouraged) for fat people.
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This selective rule-abiding and approval is so characteristic of bigotry. This thincentric hierarchy both enforces unfairness and creates a sense of shame in fat people because – according to the culture — we haven’t “earned” the right to do cute shit. When we abide by this hierarchy we participate in creating a sense that unfairness is normal and that this is how things have always been and always will be — which is a lie. It keeps fat people (and other non-conforming people) striving for permission, rather than just liberating ourselves and everyone we love.
In the spirit of that sentiment, I thought I’d make a list of regular things that become “radical” (in the culture’s eyes) when you’re doing them while also being fat.
1. Being happy
Happiness is one of those highly lauded cultural activities that are off-limits to people who have failed at being normal. Our job is to look sad so we can prove that everyone else should feel safe and keep working real hard to be normcore. If you’re happy then why is everyone else working so hard to not be you?! That makes patriarchy look bad and that makes patriarchy mad.
2. Being naked outside
I spend as much time naked outside as possible. There’s nothing like the sun and wind on your rolls.
3. Treating your body like it's precious
I have been trying to practice treating my body like it’s the sacred thing that it is. I’ve been trying to truly listen when it says “I’m tired,” “I want water,” “I need to slow down,” “I want sunlight,” and “Give me cheese.” This requires a reverence and affection that fat people are not taught to have for our bodies. Practice makes perfect!
4. Not taking men's shit
If I had a dollar for every time I put a stop to mansplaining and man-ipulation I’d have enough money to buy a medium sized home in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I could host all my witchy parties. I was taught to be submissive and grateful for men’s attention no matter how poor the quality. Furthermore, being “sassy” is laudable and alluring if you’re thin, but fat women are taught that it’s not appropriate for us to be salty. I disagree! It took a lot of help from my feminist/lesbian friends to get good at raining on dudes’ parade but I believe it has paid off.
5. Ordering exactly what you want at a food spot
This Saturday I did exactly that. I got strawberry compote AND marshmallow fluff on my dark chocolate sorbet. It was glorious. Thin people are told they’re cute when they eat a lot of food. Fat people are taught to perform restraint so we can be perceived as “trying” to be normal and therefore “good” fat people. That’s super dumb. That rule is canceled.
6. Traveling & taking myself on a vacation
I remember back in my dieting days I found myself putting my deep desire to travel on hold because I couldn’t imagine doing it as a fat person. That’s right! No palm trees, gorgeous bodies of water, inspiring human interactions, delicious new foods, or sense of wonder for me. This is another bigotry biggie. I am not a different, less deserving kind of human because of my body size.
7. Going to get late night tacos with sex hair
Also something I did on Saturday night. Very satisfying. Recommend. The myth that only thin people have wild, amazing sex, roll out of bed, slip on a floral shift, and then drive to a Mexican place with a gorgeous vaulted ceiling and eat meat in tortillas while kissing the very person who gave you sex hair is just that — a myth. It turns out that no matter what size you are you can enjoy sex — and salty delicious central American snacks!
Here’s your homework: if you haven’t already, try something on this list this week!